During all of the month except the last day, the Sun is passing through the constellation of Virgo. This constellation
is the second largest in the entire sky – the largest being Hydra (the swamp snake). On October 31st around 18h, it passes the constellation border into Libra.
The Moon is at apogee, its furthest from the Earth, on the 10th at 18h, (diameter 30 minutes of arc),
and at perigee its nearest to the Earth at 10h on the 26th. (diameter 33 minutes of arc.)
The First Quarter Moon occurs on the 5th at 16h48 in the constellation of Sagittarius, and is in conjunction with Saturn. This is a low altitude FQ Moon culminating at 12° above the southern horizon at 18h00 from the
latitude of Scarborough (54°N).
The Full Moon is at 21h09 on the 13th on the
Pisces/Cetus border. The October FM is often called the Hunter’s Moon, named after Herne the Hunter, who leads the Yell Hounds across the early winter sky, and whose ‘yelpings’ can be heard in the skeins of wild geese migrating at this
time of year. Alternative ideas have been put forward for the name given to this Full Moon; one idea is that as the Moon is now higher in the sky when full, it gives more light for poachers to stalk their prey. Another is that when the Moon is high in the
south at midnight, the constellation of Orion the Hunter is completely clear of the SE horizon for the first time since last winter. As the Hunter’s Moon rises during the evening of the 13th, the ‘Autumn Square’ of Pegasus lies
some 35° to the upper right of the Moon.
Last Quarter Moon is on the 21stat 12h40 on the Gemini/Cancer border and in line with
Castor and Pollux (alpha and beta Geminorum) and is one of the highest (58°) Last Quarter Moons of the year, when it culminates in the south (crosses the south meridian at 06h00.
New Moon is on the 28th at 03h39 in eastern Virgo, when the Moon passes 3° north of the Sun.
Earthshine may be seen illuminating the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon on the first four days and the last two days of the month, and on the waning crescent Moon from the 22nd to the 26th.
You may observe the morning cone of the Zodiacal Light from the 1st to the 12th. Look for its ethereal glow in the eastern morning
sky during October, but to see it, you must be away from light polluted skies. In light intensity, it is slightly fainter than the Milky Way.
Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (25°)east of the Sunon the 19th. Unfortunately, because of the shallow angle of the ecliptic, the planet lies very low in
the bright evening twilight. (The ecliptic is the plane of the Earth’s orbit in relation to the Sun. As the orbits of the planets are similar to that of the Earth, so most planets are to be found near to the ecliptic.) In order to locate Mercury during
October, it will be necessary to use binoculars, scanning just 5° above the horizon at around 17h30 above the WSW horizon. Beware not to confuse Mercury with Venus, which is nearby. Both planets are in conjunction on the 30th,
when Mercury will be found 2.6° south of the much brighter Venus. The thin crescent Moon is in the same area around this time, and may be of assistance in locating the two planets, which are 4° below the Moon on the 29th.
Throughout October, Mars rises before the Sun at around 05h, so that as the month progresses and the Sun rises later each morning, the planet becomes
more readily visible in the SE sky. The planet’s visible magnitude is around +1.6. At the beginning of October, Mars lies near the star Zavijava (beta Virginis), and moves rapidly eastwards towards Spica (alpha Virginis) a blue white star 260 light years
away at visible magnitude +1.0 (brighter than Mars), and ends the month a degree or so from the star theta Virginis. On the morning of the 26th, the thin waning crescent Moon (with earthshine on its dark hemisphere), may be seen approaching Mars.
Look in the ESE sky at 06h and you will see the Moon 8° above the ‘Red Planet’. A pretty spectacle indeed!
As soon as twilight fades, Jupiter
becomes readily visible in the SSW sky at an altitude of 10° above the horizon at 18h00 on the 1st. It lies in southern Ophiuchus below the star Savik (eta Ophiuchi). It cannot be mistaken as it shines steadily like a beacon – the brightest
star-like object in the evening sky after the Moon. The planet sets in the SW at 20h at the start of the month, and by 18h30 on Hallowe’en. The thin waxing crescent Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter on this last day of the month and at 17h00 the angular
distance between the two is just less than one degree (two Moon widths), producing a good ‘photo call’ for photographers of celestial events.
Jupiter’s four Galilean moons can still be seen in
the south western sky changing positions around the planet on a nightly basis.
Saturn is an evening object low in the constellation of Sagittarius,
and should be looked for in the evening in the SSW sky. It sets at 22h on the 1st of October, and at 20h on November 1st. The rings continue to be favourably placed for observation, but atmospheric turbulence near to the horizon, may
create an unsteady image of the planet through a small telescope. Saturn’s altitude at the end of the month at 18h is just 10° above the SSW horizon. On the evening of the 5th, the first quarter Moon passes very close to Saturn, and at
20h of that night the Moon will be seen just 1° (two Moon widths) below Saturn. Observers in the southern hemisphere (South Africa) may see an occultation of the planet by the Moon
Uranus is at Opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky), and
at its closest distance to Earth on the 28th and is theoretically visible all night. It is at the threshold of naked eye visibility (+5.7), the planet lies in Aries, some 11° to the south of Hamal (alpha Arietis). The planet culminates at midnight
at an altitude of 50° above the southern horizon.
You can see a star chart showing the planet’s path amongst the fainter stars of Aries on the Remote Planets page, accessible from the Menu above.
Neptune culminates at an altitude of 30° in the south during the mid-evening, in Aquarius, midway between the star phi, and 83 Aquarii. It is therefore
visible, with optical aid in the evening sky. Its current magnitude is +7.9
As with Uranus, please visit the REMOTE PLANETS page where Neptune’s path amongst the faint stars of Aquarius, may be seen.
Some more remnants of Halley’s Comet may be seen in the early hours from the 22nd to 23rd, when the earth encounters the Orionid stream.
Up to 25 shooting stars an hour are expected, and conditions for observation this year are favourable since the Moon is a waning crescent and out of the way. These meteors tend to be fast moving and often leave persistent trains. The biggest number of Orionids
will be visible just before dawn, when the constellation of Orion is high in the south. The radiant, or point of origin of the shooting stars is some 10° above Betelgeuse, the star which marks the right shoulder of the Giant Hunter.
Earlier in the month, at between 23h and 00h on the 8th/9th an increase in the number of shooting stars overnight marks the peak of the Draconid or Giacobinid
(whose parent body is the comet Giacobini-Zinner) meteor shower, with its radiant in the constellation of Draco the Dragon. Conditions are difficult, as the waxing gibbous Moon is in the sky adding light pollution to the sky.
Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Cetus, Pisces, Aries, Triangulum and Andromeda. Cassiopeia and the Milky Way lie at the zenith, with the Milky Way spanning
the sky from east to west.
Clocks go back on October 27th at 2am (BST)
All times are GMT(UT) 1° is one finger width at arm’s length.
phenomena of the month : October 2019
Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0 = Universal Time).
Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm
2019 10 03 01:46
Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 03 06:00 Mercury at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.46670 AU)
2019 10 03 23:59
Close encounter between Venus and Spica (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.9°)
2019 10 04 01:43 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
10 05 16:47 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2019 10 05 22:34 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 07 19:57
Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 10 08 19:23 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 09 01:26 Meteor
shower : Draconids (duration = 4.0 days)
2019 10 10 16:26 Meteor shower : S. Taurids (5 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 71.0 days)
2019 10 10
18:29 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 405899 km)
2019 10 11 16:37 Meteor shower : Delta Aurigids (2 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 8.0 days)
2019 10 13 04:44 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 10 13 20:45 Opposition of the asteroid 29 Amphitrite with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.406 AU; magn. =
2019 10 13 21:08 FULL MOON
2019 10 15 04:20 Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre =
2019 10 17 00:18 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2019 10 17 20:16 Close encounter between the Moon and Aldebaran
(topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.0°)
2019 10 18 18:18 Meteor shower : Epsilon Geminids (3 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 13.0 days)
10 18 20:12 Opposition of the asteroid 33 Polyhymnia with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.011 AU; magn. = 10.2)
2019 10 19 00:25 Beginning of occultation of 123-zeta Tau (magn.
2019 10 19 01:20 End of occultation of 123-zeta Tau (magn. = 2.97)
2019 10 20 00:00 GREATEST EASTERN ELONGATION of Mercury
2019 10 20 06:38 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 21 12:39 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2019 10 21 18:47 Meteor shower : Orionids (15 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 36.0 days)
2019 10 22 00:40 Beginning of occultation of 33-eta
Cnc (magn. = 5.33)
2019 10 22 01:34 End of occultation of 33-eta Cnc (magn. = 5.33)
2019 10 22 04:38 Close encounter between the Moon
and M 44 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.2°)
2019 10 23 03:27 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 23 22:19
Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 10 24 19:16 Meteor shower : Leo Minorids (2 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 8.0 days)
2019 10 26
00:15 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 26 05:00 Opposition of the asteroid 9 Metis with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.157 AU; magn. = 8.6)
2019 10 26 10:41 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 361311 km)
2019 10 27 20:52 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 10 28 03:38 NEW MOON
2019 10 28 08:15 OPPOSITION of Uranus with the Sun
2019 10 28 21:04 Minimum of
the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 29 22:54 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2019 10 30 23:59 Close encounter between
Mercury and Venus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.6°)
2019 10 31 17:53 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 10 31
21:44 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
Generated using COELIX APEX software